Skip to main content

Advanced Plant Phenotyping Laboratory (APPL)

New Plant Phenotyping Capabilities to Drive Scientific Discoveries

A unique plant phenotyping system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory provides high-resolution data to accelerate fundamental science investigations—connecting genotypes to phenotypes with applications for bioenergy, agriculture, and climate resilience. The high-throughput system offers one of the most diverse suites of imaging capabilities for plant phenotyping worldwide.

Integrating these capabilities with the wealth of genomic data on plants and microbes generated through, for example, the DOE Center for Bioenergy Innovation or the DOE Plant-Microbe Interfaces Scientific Focus Area at ORNL enables new avenues for scientific discovery.

Capturing Critical Data

Simultaneously measuring multiple characteristics and processes across plant populations requires speed and accuracy. The automated system achieves high throughput with higher resolution measurements than possible through traditional manual methods, allowing scientists to capture data for hundreds of plants before internal and external conditions change. The system has five image capture stations—dynamic chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, thermal imaging, near-infrared, 3D plant modeling, and hyperspectral imaging—which combine to provide the user with daily leaf-level spectra across a 90-day period.


Research and Development

Users interested in plant growth characteristics, photosynthetic activity, biochemical status, and response to stress can associate changes in leaf-level spectra with changes in pigment composition, biochemical composition, nitrogen content, leaf water status, plant growth dynamics, and other phenotypes. The system uses sophisticated robotics and sensors to capture day and nighttime images, automating the measurement of:

  • Plant morphology
  • Biomass accumulation
  • Photosynthetic activity
  • Physiological status
  • Relative water content and distribution
  • Stomatal movement
  • Stress response
  • Biochemical composition